Global Utility Alliance Calls for Tripling Renewable Energy Capacity

A group that represents utility companies worldwide said its members want to nearly triple their renewable energy generation capacity by 2030.

The Utilities for Net Zero Alliance (UNEZA), which was formed at last year’s COP28 climate summit in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said the group collectively wants to increase its green energy output to at least 749 GW by the end of the decade. The plan was announced April 17 at the 14th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), also held in Dubai. The group said the goal represents a 250% increase over current renewable energy capacity.

UNEZA is led by TAQA, the grid operator for the UAE. The group’s members include UK-based National Grid, Italy’s Enel, France’s EDF, and U.S.-based groups such as Edison International and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Billions of Investment Needed

Jasim Husain Thabet, TAQA’s group CEO and managing director, and co-chair of the Alliance, said, “The global utilities community is taking bold, decisive steps towards the tripling of renewables by 2030, not just in terms of our concrete investment plans but also in our drive to address energy transition bottlenecks—particularly for grids. It is increasingly recognized that grid infrastructure development is critical to enable the energy transition and expansion of clean power capacity. However, we need to do more across industry and policy to encourage more supply chain capacity, address the gridlock in permitting for grids and increase capital flows.”

The alliance was formed to give major electric utilities a way to collaborate to solve issues such as supply chains, capital investment, and government regulation. UNEZA said the plan announced Friday addresses issues such as scaling and modernizing power grid infrastructure, along with supporting development of renewable energy. It also looks at de-risking supply chains, building regulatory and policy support, and finding investment partners.

The IRENA has said investment of about $720 billion annually is needed to support power grids and flexible power generation, to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

“The shift towards a renewables-based energy system is accelerating, and with the adoption of a global goal to triple renewable power capacity by 2030 at COP28, this trend is expected to intensify,” said IRENA director general Francesco La Camera.

Modernizing Infrastructure

La Camera said modernizing electric power infrastructure is critical to achieve the group’s goals. He said infrastructure “designed for the fossil fuel era” needs to be “more interconnected” and include “flexible systems that support renewables.” He said the UNEZA plan is a “significant step to addressing this urgent need, showcasing the central role that utilities can play in transforming our energy systems and realizing net-zero targets.”

H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, said: “Utilities play a crucial role in delivering mitigation measures that align global development with a net-zero future and are central to a future energy system that is in harmony with nature and the environment. Building on the momentum from COP28, we are advancing the design and implementation of our action plan and call on utilities around the world to join this initiative, showcasing their ongoing commitment to meaningful action.”

The Alliance is guided and hosted by IRENA. It is supported by partners including the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Global Renewables Alliance and Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, Green Grids Initiative.

Martin Pibworth, chief commercial officer at SSE plc, and co-chair of UNEZA, said, “Our combined plans for accelerating renewables deployment will go a long way towards achieving our 2030 goal, but we also know that utilities can’t do it alone. We also need to build resilient supply chains that can meet this surge in demand, and we need bold enabling policy and regulatory mechanisms to underpin investments and accelerate the speed at which we can build. That is why we are coming together today to demonstrate our intent to the global supply chain and offer practical, actionable recommendations to policy makers which we hope will help unlock real delivery on the ground and keep us on a pathway to trebling renewables this decade.”

UNEZA’s membership includes TAQA (Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.). Other founding entities include Bui Power Authority, DEWA, DLO Energy, EDF, EDP, Edison International, E.ON, Enel, Engie, Etihad Water and Electricity, Hitachi Energy, Iberdrola, Jinko Power, KEGOC, KenGen, Masdar, National Grid, Octopus Energy, RWE, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Schneider Electric, Siemens, SSE, Tenaga, Uniper and Xlinks. The group’s newest additions include Green Grids Initiative and ACWA Power.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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